A “HUMPH” of hooray!

Uncle GriffinskitchWhy the cheer? I’m now officially (and completely) finished Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah! The text, illustrations, and design (at least my part of it) are all done, which means it’s now in the publisher’s hands. Everything is on schedule for an October release.

To celebrate this little milestone, I thought I would show you a sneak peek at one of the little nuggets I’m putting at the back of this book: a timeline of the History of Een.

This timeline shows the three “ages” of Een. The First Age was known as “The Days of Een.” The Second Age is the time period in which Kendra lives in. The Third Age . . . well, I actually can’t say anything about that, so I actually have blocked it out on the version I’m showing below (you will be able to see it in the actual book).

Timeline of Een History

Timeline of Een History.

Top five reasons for NOT getting a tattoo

A while back, I posted a newspaper article that featured a photo of my friend Paige and her Oki tattoo. So, in the study guides for one of our book discussions, I declared how I would not get a tattoo—but, if I did, it would look like this:


I asked my students in my creative writing class if THEY would ever consider getting a tattoo on one of my study guides, and this is the response that Kyumi gave me:

I would NEVER get a tattoo because of these five reasons:

1. I’m too young.

2. They use that sharp needle to draw on you.

3. Tattoo removal is so painful.

4. I don’t feel safe in a tattoo shop with freak people with tattoos surrounding me.

5. Tattoos are not interesting.

HOWEVER, if I somehow changed my  mind and got a tattoo, I would get Indiana Jones, Short Round, Luke Skywalker, and Mr. Wiz being run over by a ketchup-covered boulder and attacked by those cute little teddy bear things from Star Wars.

Did I mention that Kyumi is Grade 4? Still, she is very wise. Sadly, this sage answer came on the last day of class; otherwise, I would have had Kyumi provide an illustration of said tattoo. I guess we’ll just have to rely on our collective imaginations.

So lazy . . .

Not me. My cat.

Lazy Cat.

I assure YOU, I’m hard at work—which is one of the reasons I haven’t been posting much lately.

I’m still hearing from a lot of you asking about my progress on Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah.

Page from Ozma of Oz
Opening chapter from Ozma of Oz by L. Frank Baum.

I assure you, I am toiling away at it. Now that the book has gone to layout, I am fiddling with chapter titles. This might seem like the simplest of tasks to most, but I fiddle endlessly with chapter titles—not only because I want them to sound right, but because I want them to look right.

I guess it’s the graphic designer in me. And I always want to capture that old-style feel that I one finds in the Oz books, which were published in the early years of the twentieth century.

One of the things that I loved so much about those books was their playful typography. I’m trying to capture the same sort of feeling.

It takes time! Here’s a few of the pages I’ve been working on and, I suppose, some of my favourites. I hope you like them!

(Oh—and my apologies. I’ve had to grey out some of the text; I don’t want to spoil any of the story.)

Chapter 6

Chapter 18

Cover time for the Wiz Kids!

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been showing the various stages of the cover for Kendra Kandlestar and the Crack in Kazah.

Well, in all of my writing classes, we’ve started working on the covers for my students’ books too! I’m most pleased with my Grade 3/4 class. Being the youngest students I teach, they took the complicated technical task of preparing their covers and did a marvellous job.

Of course, they love to torture me, and that’s why you will see covers filled with ketchup, eggs, and three-eyed devil Wizzy boys (yes, a portrait of me).

Here are some of the results (I will show some more next week). Great job, Wiz Kids!

Student cover.

Student cover.

Student cover.

Student cover.

Student cover.

Mystery and mayhem on the Sunshine Coast

Camp Byng.

This last week has been a bit of blur as I taught workshops or delivered presentations in five different cities over four days. The exclamation mark on the week was when I took the short ferry ride from Vancouver to the Sunshine Coast to participate in the “Canopy Creations” conference for young authors and illustrators. The conference was held at Camp Byng, a Cub Scout property with numerous cabins and lodges.

The conference was aptly named—boy, did we need those canopies! The rain hammered down on us for the better part of the day. Other workshop leaders were Lowry Olafson (he helped the kids write and perform a song called “Fuzzy Carrots are Epic”), Maggie Chow, and Maureen McBeath.

For my part, I helped the kids create heroic characters. We then crafted riddles, ciphers, codes and messages written in invisible ink so that those same heroes would have plenty of problems to deal with! There’s no doubt those kids loved the invisible ink the most!

Hero building.

Hero building.

Invisible ink.

Invisible ink messages.